Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Semi-Regular Series for The Edmonton Journal: Made In Edmonton

Often people get in touch with Sam Cupelli because they want a steel gate.  After they leave this craftsman's studio, called Simply Steel Metal Art Studio, they  have ideas for a whole lot more ways steel might fit in their home. In Cupelli's well-trained and creative hands, the options are endless: back splashes, wall finishes, chairs, table legs, spider webs, back lit bars and wall art...
Sam Cupelli at his art studio. Photo by John Lucas; Edmonton Journal photo credit.

This article is the start of a semi-regular series in the Edmonton Journal Homes Section, intended to excite our collective creative juices. There are so many ways to personalize our homes with art and function (often limited only by our imaginations). The series is also intended to feature the many amazing designer-makers in this city. They are creating beautiful things. With more buyers and collaborators like you and I, I hope they might stay in Edmonton and keep creating.

As William Morris so aptly said: Let nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Friday, September 12, 2014

Avenue Edmonton: Style Q & A with Tyler Olafson

One of my favourite Avenue Edmonton covers.

Tyler Olafson is classic Alberta: bringing together Cows and Prada for a photo shoot that I really wish I'd been to. When I interviewed Tyler, it took me a half-minute to figure out that the guy sliding into the booth across from me (at Dadeo's) was there for an interview. On Style.  It wasn't that he didn't look nice enough, but his mustache was bushy and long.  And Avenue rarely seems to 'do' mustaches.

The 'stash cleaned up pretty good.  This is a Q & A with a guy a lot like the cowboys of old (not the new settled ones, but the Go West Young Man kind). He's an electrician and biker and rancher... he also wears Hugo Boss.

Edmonton Journal: Garden Art

Agile Lady by Ritchie Velthuis
For many years, I have passed, and paused at, and smelled this garden just three blocks from my home in the Alberta Avenue community.  While the plants are stunning, its vegetation isn't the main thing what makes me stop. Subtly scattered throughout is a menagerie of clay-fired and cement sculpture.

Homeowners, Ritchie Velthuis and his partner, Stuart Ballah, can often be found sculpting ice at our local winter festivals. In summer time, however, they turn their skillful, design eyes to their yard. Ritchie does mostly figurative art and he gracefully gave me a tour of their yard. See it here: A Yen for Yard Art

If his sculpture excites you, enroll in one of his classes at the City Arts Centre, and make one for yourself.

BEdition: U of A Education Faculty Alumnus

Kieran Block and I met at Transcend Coffee House in Edmonton for this profile. When he walked into the cafe, I'd never have guessed his journey of hospitalization to recovery. Only a year after the former Western Hockey Leaguer set his sights on an Education degree at the University of Alberta, a cliff jump went terribly wrong. He was told he may never play hockey again. He proved the docs wrong thanks to his determination and a different kind of game. Read his full profile here.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Avenue Edmonton: Work of Art

When Wendy Turner was 20 years old, she bought her first original pieces of art. Wandering in an Edmonton gallery in the late ’70s, she fell in love with two drawings by Victoria, B.C.’s Myfanwy Pavelic. The nude drawings, studies of Bill Brandt photos, are in black ink against a pale blue and cream backdrop. From afar, the bodies could be landscape form. “I saw them and I thought: ‘I want them,’” says Wendy, co-owner of The Artworks

This was one of my favourite homes to visit. So many things to look at, so many stories to tell- the piece could have been twice as long! Click here for the rest of the Article and further photos.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Couples in Business Together: Making it Work in Avenue Edmonton

The idea of starting a business with my husband has always held an allure. Lululemon and EventBrite were started and continue to be run by couples. So are successful Edmonton businesses the Duchess Bake Shop and Beacon Hill Properties.

When I imagine our life in business together, I see soft focus images of flexible schedules, days full of shared adventure, and a common purpose that draws us closer. 

Illustration by Dennis Orb; printed Feb. 2014 in Avenue Edmonton
My parents worked together for most of my childhood, and- for the most part- I loved that our whole family was incorporated into their work. It was only as I grew older that I became aware of the strain the business put on my parent’s relationship. The romance of the positives became more nuanced in my teens when my parents sought a totally different work- life balance.  Mom found a 9-5 job. Dad started a new company and many of the particulars of his business remained bound between the four walls of his office.

They both seemed to exhale with relief. Business together had been good, but it had been hard. 

Just as no one business is the same, so every couple in business has a unique story. I set out to speak to three couples that have adapted their relationships and businesses to suit their lives. Sometimes the business strengthened the relationship. Other times something- either the business or the relationship- had to “give”. In every case, these couples created something that was only possible because they were in it together.

Read the Avenue Edmonton article, Making it Work, here.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Edmonton Journal: An Estate Home


Photo Credit: Bruce Edwards, The Edmonton Journal
I visited Alison Rayner after one of the first major Edmonton snow storms of the season. As I drove slowly out to her 8.4 acre property, I found my tense "I-hate-winter-driving-muscles" relax despite the icy highway. There was no way NOT to marvel. I was surrounded by a fantasy winterscape- ice dripping off trees, fields full of glinting diamonds.

The Rayner home was just finished, after a 3 year building process. As we drank our tea, you could tell Alison was both relieved and giddy that the project was over. She was a generous host and thoughtful homeowner.

To see pictures of their 6000-square foot estate home, and read more about the building process, click here.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Edmonton Arts Council Grant- Hurrah

Last month I received a letter from Edmonton Arts Council with news that made me hoot, shriek, and generally scare the children. My mouth gaped like it does to those artists on the award shows, and - in my basement, surrounded by my concerned family- I rambled thanks to God, my city, my colleagues, my editors. Right, and to my family.  The feeling of euphoria has continued to buoy my days (I fear that it has also revealed to me just how starved for affirmation I have become working from home in my little freelancing bubble.)

Along with the hysterical energy has come a stabilizing feeling I can only describe as dread. I have to write a book. The Council has agreed to fund a significant portion of my salary for the next few months so I can focus on writing the first couple drafts of a manuscript about my neighborhood Alberta Avenue, Edmonton.  It will be a book of essays, rants, profiles and obituaries. It will be a book without any easy answers, and hopefully, very few glib pronouncements on the glorious, wondrous, fantabulous privilege of living where I do. It is not to be a book of urban boosterisms. It is meant to be a book about the complexities and hylarities inherent when you live in a changing community.

I will be writing a lot less articles over the next few months.  I hope to emerge from this process in May with my clothes tattered, and my soul refreshed. Wish me luck!

And, thank you Edmonton Arts Council.

Monday, November 11, 2013

LINK Magazine: Darryl Cox Profile

Darryl Cox, Flood disaster relief lead for Brookfield Homes. Photo Credit: SAIT Polytechnic
Darryl Cox has been to most of the world's major distaters over the last fifteen years: the Indoniesian Tsunami, New Orleans' Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti. He's gone as a team leader for Samaritan's Purse. Using his skills as a building contractor and carpenter, he's helped rebuild homes and communities, as well as supported imporant mitigation efforts that included sharing best practices on everything from cement mixes and building structure.

Then in June 2013, with Calgary overwhelmed with flood waters from the Bow and Elbow Rivers, his employer Brookfield Homes called him to lead a disaster relief team in his own city.    This was the first of a number of stories I have done on the Southern Alberta Flood Recovery.

Avenue Edmonton: A Modern Home

Photo Credit:
When I arrived for this interview with Andrew and Viji Nataraj, their landscaping was still a mess of front-end loaders and workers. Even then, I could see the vision in that front yard.

It has only been the last few years that modern homes like this one, featured in Avenue Edmonton, have been sought after and built in this city. In fact, when I drove away from the home through the Glenora community, I counted three new, modern builds withing two blocks of them. Thank God- perhaps in twenty years it means that there will be more than bungalows for families searching for a larger homes in this city.

My three hours with the Nataraj's was largely spent on the main floor of their home- under soaring ceilings and surrounded by September light.  I spent another few hours writing this decor feature, beautifully photographed by Ian Grant.